Yeshaya Perek 11

Perek 11 is perhaps one of the most poetic, symbolic passages found in Yeshaya. Yesahya describes a post-Messianic world, in which “The wolf will lie down with the sheep; the leopard with the goat” and “The bear and the cow will graze together”. Such will be the extent of world peace in the Messianic era.

The Radak brings several interpretations of these pesukim. The first interpretation (one that he eventually rebuffs), is that in the times of Moshiach, the nature of predatory animals will be subverted that they will be willing to forsake the meat of their prey for the grass of the ground. (He proves that when animals were first created, they were not carnivorous, hence the animals not becoming extinct in Noach’s ark - they did not kill each other). The second explanation is that the pesukim are not to be understood literally. Animals will continue to eat in their normal fashion, but they will be withheld from causing any damage in Eretz Yisrael. Finally, the Radak suggests that the “bear” and other predatory animals represent those people whose lives are spent in the pursuit of worldly benefit (the Rambam writes that these animals refer to our enemies). The herbivores, on the other hand, indicate those who attempt to serve Hashem without deriving unnecessary pleasure. In the time of Moshiach, Hashem’s kingship and presence will be so clear that even these two, seemingly incompatible categories of people, will “graze” together and that each and every nation will come to recognize that Hashem is the King, and that everything else is futile and there will be no need to harm or prey on one and other.